Almost Zipped: Akron gives Vols plenty of problems, 47-26

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee Volunteers running back Rajion Neal  carries the ball against Akron at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee Volunteers running back Rajion Neal carries the ball against Akron at Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Recap: Akron at Tennessee

Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Zach Rogers (83) makes a catch under pressure from Akron Zips cornerback Bill Alexander (21) at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Zach Rogers (83) makes a catch under pressure from Akron Zips cornerback Bill Alexander (21) at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

The Mid-American Conference had a big Saturday. Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Ball State, they all upset BCS conference schools.

And then Akron, a 32-point underdog, had a big half at Tennessee’s expense Saturday night at Neyland Stadium.

First Avis Commack intercepted a Tyler Bray pass and raced 44 yards for a touchdown in the first minute.

Then Quentin Hines broke loose for a 70-yard touchdown run late in the second period to put the Zips up 23-20.

A stunned crowd, announced at 81,719, didn’t know what to think of a 23-23 halftime draw. But it knew it didn’t like it.

“The score at halftime is a score that never matters,’’ said Tennessee safety Byron Moore.

The final score, the one that always matters, was 47-26, as UT (3-1) shook off the post-Florida hangover.

The fourth quarter was Tennessee’s undoing last week against Florida. It was the Vols’ finest moment against Akron.

After the Zips (1-3) pulled within 30-26 on Robert Stein’s fourth field goal to start the fourth quarter, Tennessee scored the game’s final 17 points.

“That was a tough game,’’ UT coach Derek Dooley said. “I knew it would be.

“I’m proud of the team. We had so many things go wrong (early) and we came out and dominated the second half.

“That’s a good step for the team.’’

Eric Gordon’s interception at the Akron 19 with 9:09 to play set up Tyler Bray for a knockout punch.

Bray connected, hitting Justin Hunter with the 19-yard touchdown strike on Tennessee’s first snap.

That made it 40-26. A little over two minutes later, Bray connected with Jacob Carter for a 24-yard TD pass.

With 6:34 to play, a 47-26 lead was comfortable enough.

The game produced 977 yards of offense, 633 by UT and 344 by Akron.

There were eight field goals. Akron’s Stein was a perfect 4-of-4. Tennessee’s Derrick Brodus matched him, hitting all four tries, from 37, 23, 22 and 28 yards.

“They were big,’’said Dooley. “We were struggling in the red zone.’’

Akron’s hurry-up offense had the Vols on their heels for three quarters, but, ultimately, the Zips managed only one field goal in the second half.

“We knew they were gonna wear down and get tired,’’ said Bray. “That’s what happened.’’

Ten of Akron’s points came from Tennessee turnovers, including Commack’s interception return in the opening minute.

A Rajion Neal fumble set up Stein’s first field goal and a 10-10 tie.

Bray warmed up as the game went on and finished with four touchdown passes to four different receivers — Hunter, Carter, Neal and Brendan Downs.

His passing night ended 27 of 43 for 401 yards.

The Vols rushed for 232 yards, including 151 by Neal.

Linebacker A.J. Johnson scored a touchdown for the second consecutive game, finishing a drive with a 2-yard run.

A first half that featured 570 yards of offense, six field goals and three turnovers — two by UT — ended in a draw.

Things went bad for Tennessee almost from the start when Bray was picked off on the third play.

“They (Akron) were jumping around everywhere and he made a bad decision,’’ Dooley said.

Thirty-five seconds gone and Akron led 7-0.

The Vols got seven the hard way, a 13-play drive that ended in Johnson’s direct-snap run.

Moore’s first interception and return to the Akron 28 quickly gave Tennessee an opportunity to get some separation.

Three points was all the separation that came of it, though, as Brodus hit from 37 yards.

The turnover festival continued when Neal fumbled at the UT 29. Stein’s 45-yard field goal tied things at 10-10.

As the second quarter began, the Vols squandered another long drive when they couldn’t move the ball after a first down at the Akron 7.

Brodus’ 23-yard field goal made it 13-10.

The Zips finally earned points with some offensive prowess, driving 12 plays for another Stein field goal to make it 13-13.

Tennessee answered, this time managing to find the end zone. A 48-yard bomb from Bray to Zach Rogers reached the 5. Bray found tight end Downs wide open from the 6 for the go-ahead score, 20-13.

Akron continued to move the ball well and got a 37-yard field goal from Stein to narrow the gap to 20-16.

Next, Tennessee’s short-yardage frustration continued — with dire consequences.

On fourth-and-1 at the Akron 29, Johnson was stopped cold. The Zips took over with 2:36 left in the half, 70 yards away.

Hines got the 70 all in one run, breaking through a hole and then outrunning Tennessee’s secondary.

Boos could be heard as Hines crossed the goal line to put Akron on top 23-20.

The Vols quickly moved for a first-and-goal at the Akron 9, but Bray couldn’t find a receiver on second or third down.

Brodus cleaned up one more time, from 22 yards, and the half ended 23-23.

But that score, as Moore correctly pointed out, never matters.

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Comments » 116

tedstryker1980 writes:

That was ugly!

stevefrommemphis writes:

Is UTAD going to start putting up curtains over the end zone upper decks for these MAC and Sun Belt games?

redskinvol1 writes:

FIRE DOOLEY NOW !!

volhome writes:

BTW, did anyone lse see Justin pull up lame after the celebratory jump-butt bump? Coaches should ban that stupid manuever now. It's just a matter of time before a torn ACL or broken leg ends a season for a player that could have been a difference maker. Teach the guys high-fives, and let the fools for other teams do the jumps to destruction. Act like we have done the good things before and will do so again!

OLROCKYTOP writes:

Sheew, ugly but I will take it. I sure hope they play more inspired than they did tonight come next Saturday or we will get run completely out of Athens.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

WOW! The score doesn't tell the entire story. Hopefully UGA was saving the let down for us. They very much looked like the #5 team in the country tonight....Things are about to get real interesting in Big Orange Country...

volaholic45 writes:

I thought we were playing Dayton.

Fear the roo!

RockyToptoNeyland writes:

we need help, this is not good

VolinCalif writes:

Well as I said the talent level of the two teams was never in doubt. I also said Terry would come to play. But we have a staff that is dedicated to fixing our weaknesses and they worked on those issues admirably. What weakness have we shown more than not knowing how to play in a close 4 Qtr or a full ball game. Well I think we worked on those issue's pretty well. Don't You!
Vols win their Bowl

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

Seventy percent of all Vol defensive plays for the rest of the season announcers will say, if they don't get bored with it, blown coverage-miscommunication etc. A pass rush is simply out of the question. Sansuri seems to be locked in to a scheme his personnel have no hope of learning. He might possibly be an idiot. Chaney is unquestionably an idiot. Unless of course all this wildcat junk is really the only hope of Tennessee moving the ball.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

If attendance drops like this in other games there will be some changes for sure. Didn't make sense playing this game at night. More ppl may have attended had it been during the day.

eduardo writes:

cya precious!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OrangePsyched writes:

There have been a lot of upsets this year. This was one ugly game but we won and are 3-1. A lot of things will have to go our way against UGA but that's why you play the game right? I'll continue the players and staff and see how things shake out.

grout writes:

3-1 to start the season and we look like phooey.Looks like an 0-4 stretch coming up,we'll be lucky to win 6 games

orange_eVOLution writes:

in response to sly_stone99#434111:

If attendance drops like this in other games there will be some changes for sure. Didn't make sense playing this game at night. More ppl may have attended had it been during the day.

Quit whining. We won by 21 while Arkansas lost to Rutgers. However, I'll do a lot more than whine if we don't fare better against Georgia than Vandy did tonight. Ouch!!

nomietn#281095 writes:

Tonight it looks like Tennessee found itself a coach......Terry Bowden.

Vols20 writes:

Ugly, but a win. 8-4 and a quality bowl -- book it!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to orange_eVOLution:

Quit whining. We won by 21 while Arkansas lost to Rutgers. However, I'll do a lot more than whine if we don't fare better against Georgia than Vandy did tonight. Ouch!!

We will beat one , maybe two of the next four.

LADAWG writes:

See you guys next week. Buckle your chinstrap it could be rough

VolinCalif writes:

in response to nomietn#281095:

Tonight it looks like Tennessee found itself a coach......Terry Bowden.

Could well be. But I don't think Bowden likes UT enough to coach here.

UTAlum88 (Inactive) writes:

We won...but we stink...still such a long way to go...the road is long.

GerryOP writes:

If you didn't see the game and only looked at the stats, most would wonder what you guys are whining about. 633 yards total offense, 401 passing, 233 rush, Neal 151 rushing, Hunter 115 receiving, two turnovers, etc, etc, etc. It looks like everyone got into the game. A decent tuneup for UGa. We'll see.

Titan writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Could well be. But I don't think Bowden likes UT enough to coach here.

I guess I hadn't seen Bowden in a while. His appearance has certainly changed a lot.

mikethehistorystudent writes:

in response to KremsersWaywardWallop:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Go ahead and hate me, but I wish we had lost this game. I really do. An ugly win like this is the worst thing that could happen. I'm scarred that we may end this season with 7-8 wins and actually keep Dooley around for another year. We need a convincingly bad season so that we can get rid of him instead of keeping him around. Tennessee is wasting time with Dooley. I want a coach that knows how to win with a name that will bring in recruits. I WANT JON GRUDEN!

BigVolFaninSC writes:

0-4 if we play like we played tonight!...Hopefully, they were looking past Zips to the Dawgs!...Not impressed at all with OL short-yardage run-blocking (STILL)! I know that Neal had a career night, but 3rd and 1, 4th and 1 should be automatic against Akron!

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

in response to orange_eVOLution:

Quit whining. We won by 21 while Arkansas lost to Rutgers. However, I'll do a lot more than whine if we don't fare better against Georgia than Vandy did tonight. Ouch!!

First off no one is whining. Typical Doolican going on the defensive. Attendance from what I have read was an issue tonight. Making a point about the game being played during the day to capture more ppl is valid. How does Akron warrant a night game? Seriously? Drop in attendance effects concessions and gate tix. When money starts to dry up changes will come.

OrangePsyched writes:

in response to KremsersWaywardWallop:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You're awfully critical to be such a loser yourself. I guess if anyone should be able to spot a loser it should be you. Go back to your glass half empty WHINE and cheese.

GerryOP writes:

in response to LADAWG:

See you guys next week. Buckle your chinstrap it could be rough

The Vols'll be bringin' it Dawg. Don't stand too close to the edge. Smokey'll be lookin' for Uga too!

MikeNPS writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Could well be. But I don't think Bowden likes UT enough to coach here.

And who in their right mind would want Bowden?

VOLet_parking writes:

LA Tech is 3-0 this year, and has the longest road winning streak in their program (7 games) since 1970. Looks like they got rid of their baggage.

tedstryker1980 writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Could well be. But I don't think Bowden likes UT enough to coach here.

Considering Bowden's compensation is less than 400k a yr and our job currently pays well over 2 mill... I think he would hold his nose and jump ship even if he hates UT... which begs the question... why are we paying so much for Dooley? Clearly he is the lesser coach. Why did we give him such a large buyout? It was lunacy.

ivyvol writes:

Bowden needs an intervention.

JimmyJoe writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

We will beat one , maybe two of the next four.

Hey if we beat two out of he next four we will be dancing in the streets. I think the fact is we will lose the next four straight... Ga, miss st, Bama, and SC. In fact I think the state game is the only one we have a chance to win... And that's a stretch.

trl_x writes:

Wasn't surprised they struggled in the first half. But I didn't expect the gator hangover to last until the fourth quarter.

Statistically the Vols dominated the game. It didn't look or feel like domination.

I hope the gator game made them tough or they will be humiliated over the next month.

Go Vols

allvol8 writes:

in response to mikethehistorystudent:

Go ahead and hate me, but I wish we had lost this game. I really do. An ugly win like this is the worst thing that could happen. I'm scarred that we may end this season with 7-8 wins and actually keep Dooley around for another year. We need a convincingly bad season so that we can get rid of him instead of keeping him around. Tennessee is wasting time with Dooley. I want a coach that knows how to win with a name that will bring in recruits. I WANT JON GRUDEN!

Dream on. John Gruden does not want to coach college FB Period end of discussion.Besides he is not a "proven " college coach.

mikethehistorystudent writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

You're awfully critical to be such a loser yourself. I guess if anyone should be able to spot a loser it should be you. Go back to your glass half empty WHINE and cheese.

You must be high. I'm not so hard on Sunseri, but Dooley needs to go. He's had his chance. He doesn't know how to prepare and motivate his players. A good coach would have built himself a solid program by now with the resources that UT has. Get rid of Dooley. I can't support him any longer. We need JON GRUDEN!

ivyvol writes:

in response to nomietn#281095:

Tonight it looks like Tennessee found itself a coach......Terry Bowden.

No, he eats too much. How 'bout the K-state who gets more out of less than anybody else in the game?

lstbodeanvol writes:

in response to mikethehistorystudent:

Go ahead and hate me, but I wish we had lost this game. I really do. An ugly win like this is the worst thing that could happen. I'm scarred that we may end this season with 7-8 wins and actually keep Dooley around for another year. We need a convincingly bad season so that we can get rid of him instead of keeping him around. Tennessee is wasting time with Dooley. I want a coach that knows how to win with a name that will bring in recruits. I WANT JON GRUDEN!

Jon Gruden doesnt want the job......

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

in response to mikethehistorystudent:

Go ahead and hate me, but I wish we had lost this game. I really do. An ugly win like this is the worst thing that could happen. I'm scarred that we may end this season with 7-8 wins and actually keep Dooley around for another year. We need a convincingly bad season so that we can get rid of him instead of keeping him around. Tennessee is wasting time with Dooley. I want a coach that knows how to win with a name that will bring in recruits. I WANT JON GRUDEN!

Gruden doesn't want you.

mikethehistorystudent writes:

in response to allvol8:

Dream on. John Gruden does not want to coach college FB Period end of discussion.Besides he is not a "proven " college coach.

I will dream on because it's better than this reality. Gruden has expressed interest in getting back into coaching and he has ties to Tennessee. Proven or not, he's a name that will attract national attention and recruits. He's gotta be better than Dooley!

lstbodeanvol writes:

in response to Titan:

I guess I hadn't seen Bowden in a while. His appearance has certainly changed a lot.

Bowden looked more like the former Kansas and Maryland coaches..more chins than a chinese phone book...lol GO VOLS !!!!

ivyvol writes:

Wonder who has the larger circumference,Chaney or Bowden.

ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER writes:

in response to redskinvol1:

FIRE DOOLEY NOW !!

Yes that's a good plan because lots of great coaches would jump at the chance to go coach a school that keeps firing coaches! No pressure there.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to GerryOP:

If you didn't see the game and only looked at the stats, most would wonder what you guys are whining about. 633 yards total offense, 401 passing, 233 rush, Neal 151 rushing, Hunter 115 receiving, two turnovers, etc, etc, etc. It looks like everyone got into the game. A decent tuneup for UGa. We'll see.

Problem is, those #s will be chopped in half at best against SEC teams. And the stats along with the final score don't show how incredibly close this game was. We look like a PAC 12 team IMO. Score a bunch of points, hope like heck we don't give up more than we score.

JimmyJoe writes:

in response to sly_stone99#434111:

First off no one is whining. Typical Doolican going on the defensive. Attendance from what I have read was an issue tonight. Making a point about the game being played during the day to capture more ppl is valid. How does Akron warrant a night game? Seriously? Drop in attendance effects concessions and gate tix. When money starts to dry up changes will come.

Well the SEC dictates when we play. We (Tennessee) evidently don't get to make any decisions when it comes to tv games. But seriously man... If we had won last week there would have been 100,000 there this week...if it had been played morning, noon or night.

volfaninutah writes:

where was CP tonight? All i could do was watch the play by play on my computer. I never saw his name mentioned anywhere.

allvol8 writes:

in response to mikethehistorystudent:

I will dream on because it's better than this reality. Gruden has expressed interest in getting back into coaching and he has ties to Tennessee. Proven or not, he's a name that will attract national attention and recruits. He's gotta be better than Dooley!

He is NOT interested in college FB I have heard it out of John's mouth... If he gets back in coaching it will be NFL. do like John but this is what he told me. Sorry

snafu14u#241639 writes:

in response to nomietn#281095:

Tonight it looks like Tennessee found itself a coach......Terry Bowden.

Hate to say it but I was having those thoughts as well. I feel so ashamed. I feel better after talking to the group. Thanks. BonzaiVol

VOLet_parking writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

Yes that's a good plan because lots of great coaches would jump at the chance to go coach a school that keeps firing coaches! No pressure there.

Yea, firing 2 coaches in the past 20 years would be unheard of.

redskinvol1 writes:

in response to ULTIMATEVOLUNTEER:

Yes that's a good plan because lots of great coaches would jump at the chance to go coach a school that keeps firing coaches! No pressure there.

All coaches deal with pressure in the SEC.Dooley has already proven he can't handle it.Time to pay someone what ever it takes that can.

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